Confirmed: Cory Schneider Starts Game 3

With the Canucks down two games to none in their first round series against the L.A. Kings, head-coach Alain Vigneault doesn’t have a lot of cards left to play. One of his possible trump cards, however, is stalwart backup goaltender Cory Schneider. Vigneault is going all in for game three, as he’s confirmed that Cory Schneider will get the nod in net on Sunday evening.

Click past the jump for more.

As Cam Charron wrote over at The Backhand Shelf yesterday, Luongo’s play has not been the team’s issue in the first two games of the series. Also, starting Cory Schneider in game three may not be the best move from an asset management perspective:

One goalie is going to be given up in the offseason, and it’s not too early to start thinking about who it’s going to be. If the Canucks turn away from the best goalie the franchise has ever seen a pretty dire time, you aren’t doing his reputation any favours. I had pencilled in Schneider start Game Three, but assumed a 1-1 series at this point, where the stakes are lower and not as many people have their attention turned to this game.

And, come on. Has Luongo been the problem for the team? With 65 shots against and just 4 goals, to be even in this series, you’re counting on your goaltender to have a .938 save percentage just to be tied through two games. Luongo’s even strength save percentage is at .951, his problems resulting from poor goal support, five-on-five defence and an atrocious powerplay.

That’s sound, convincing analysis – but with the team on the ropes, Alain Vigneault has clearly decided to role the dice in an effort to shake the team out of their totally inexcusable playoff doldrums. They could do worse than gambling on Schneider, who statistically has been superior to Roberto Luongo this season. In fact, Cory Schneider has possibly been the team’s best overall player, as a backup goaltender. Here’s how Jason Botchford framed the "start Schneider" argument yesterday:

Thing is, Schneider has been on the bench for the 0-2 start to this series and he may have had the best season on the team. He may in fact be the best player on the team right now. He sure is the hottest. He’s earned a chance to make a difference. And right now, the Canucks are desperate for a difference maker.

I tend to agree. Clearly, this decision isn’t a reflection of Luongo’s play, he acquitted himself well in both of games one and two. Schneider, however, has the potential to be a game-breaker. He’s also particularly excelled at making saves in special teams situations this season, and that’s where most of the Kings damage has been done in this series.

Special teams save-percentage numbers are based on tiny, non-predictive samples, but with the Canucks bleeding goals against both short-handed and on the power-play, it’s certainly worth seeing if Schneider can help reverse that. Schneider’s excellent short-handed save percentage will assuredly regress from its current heights over his next fifty or so starts, but it’s worth seeing if he can continue to ride those percentages in the short-term.

  • Carson Baerg

    Seeing as how you asked what better way, how about some goal support from the best players? It dried up last year in the finals last year. They are starting to get shy a tad early.

  • Carson Baerg

    “With 65 shots against and just 4 goals, to be even in this series, you’re counting on your goaltender to have a .938 save percentage just to be tied through two games.”

    Great point Thomas;
    I believe it’s even higher when you adjust for
    powerplay, 5 on 3 , and shorthanded shots!

  • Carson Baerg

    The problem is then if Schneider comes in and the Canucks win, when do you put Luongo back in? Game 4? The second series? Never? For a guy who has had “mental toughness” problems, how will he take it when arguably his best play of the season is rewarded with a benching?

  • Carson Baerg

    Once again AV makes a decision one game late.
    The best strategy was clearly to play Cory after game 1.

    1why? Shakes up team /we mean business when they have edge in there favor on home ice.

    2.A coach must put his players in the best
    possible position to succeed. this is Cory’s first playoff start on the road is tough but in a must game??A ridiculous move no matter what.

    AV played the card too late.

  • Carson Baerg

    The guys up front should be playing their asses off for Luongo. Don’t see how putting in Cory is going to fix their PP.

    They are grown men, and they’ve let Lu be the punching bag in Van for far too long.

    They failed, and Luongo paid.

  • Dmac

    dan – “A ridiculous move no matter what. AV played the card too late.”

    Really? if Canucks win, it is great, if they lose, then you will be “right” – and we can say congrats. His decision regarding game 2 is not relevant at this moment. AV made mistakes in last year’s final too – not pulling Lu in game 3, so he had to do it in game 4. I would have been happy with changing goalies in game 2, but he didn’t and I don’t see it as an obvious mistake. It would take clairvoyance to be sure of that.

    To sgolesor – if they win, put Lu back in game 5. The end of season run showed that the goalie competition worked well. Lets hope that this is an option – ie ther is a game 5

  • Dmac

    They are too busy to read a blog and comment. They are gathering up bottles to make molotov cocktails!

    Funny the big change the Canucks make is their goaltender…when Luongo is probably one of the brighter spots for the Canucks so far.

    How about slotting Cody Hodgson in on a line with Sedin? Oh yea…traded him away! Kassian looks great…lol!

  • Dmac

    What worries me about this blog isn’t that there aren’t enough commenters. Or enough bone-heads, who equate writing silly comments with spilling their passion. But, geez, what low quality trolls we’re getting. Where’s Derek Zona or the LAKings twitter account? COME TROLL US PROPERLY!

  • Wax Man Riley

    Looking forward to another big choke tonight by the CaSucks.

    Schnieder should have been in the whole time. Lou has proved time and again that he is not a big game player.

    I’m still surprised by the Kings’ lead though, I expected Van to walk away with this one. If Dustin Penner looks engaged, you know the Kings are dialed in.

  • Wax Man Riley

    BTW….. I can’t vote on TEH POLLLZZZ. it tells me “The change you wanted was rejected. Maybe you tried to change something you didn’t have access to.”

    EDIT: Nevermind…. had to allow scripts in the browser

  • Reg Dunlop

    Atta boy antro, way to push back a little. A canucklehead with some grit. If only your team had some of your attitude they wouldn’t be such chokers. Oilers will be the next Canadian team to hoist Stanley. Book it.